During a recent early morning drive, I was on my way to the base gym to PT before work and oddly enough, there was a news story on the radio about gyms. The story was about how large numbers of people will sign up for expensive gym memberships, with the sincere hope of losing weight and getting in better shape, then they almost never go. This is really nothing new. In the 90’s when I was on recruiting duty in upstate New York, I saw this first hand. I was assigned to an area that was a long way from any military gym. So I had to lay out a few bucks for a membership to a local civilian place. I luckily found a little gym right near my office that had everything I needed. Now this place was one of those old brick store front type you see in a lot of small towns. It was probably an old drug store, or something like that when it opened decades earlier. It was very small, they just had a few treadmills and stationary bikes in the main room and some free weights in the basement. No sauna, no aerobics room and not even a real locker room, just a small bathroom to change. I went there almost daily for over a year and never saw more than a handful of people at once working out. I’ve actually seen a few home gym setups that were bigger, and better outfitted than this place. However, as it was never crowded, close by and opened at 0500 during the week, it was perfect for my purposes.
So one day after my workout I was speaking to the owner, and I asked him how he managed to keep the place open with so few members? “So few members?” he said with a smile. “You may not believe me, but we have over 500 paid memberships in this little gym.” 500?, I almost didn’t believe him. Yes, he said. What happens is that people sign up for a year’s (paid in advance) membership, and after a few visits, are never seen again? The fact was, that for fire safety purposes, that gym was only rated to hold 80 people at once. According to the owner, he had never seen even 50 of his 500 plus members in there at one time. So this is nothing new.
However, I was surprised to read in the article that many gyms now actually try to attract people that they know won’t go. To do this they set the gyms up to look more like coffee shops and bars to attract people who aren’t serious about working out. These “non users” actually keep the cost down for those who do go. On the surface it’s seems a very weird thing for people to fall for, but many people think that if they sign up, and spend money in advance, it will some how motivate them to go and workout. The fact is, that (as the article bears out), rarely happens. The reason is simple. The desire to lose weight and/or improve your physical condition has very little to do with how much money you spend, (BTW, there are a lot of overweight rich people). It has everything to do with how you think about it. I know this from long experience training myself and others. That’s why in my book: Corps Strength I talk so much about the mental side of this. To maintain a successful (long term) fitness program, you have to get your thinking right before you even lace up a sneaker. It’s by far the most important part of any fitness program. Without the right thought process, you’re doomed before you even start, and it can also end up being a big waste of money. So do yourself and your bank account a favor. Get your head screwed on right before you lay out your hard earned cash on a gym membership, or for expensive home workout gear. Your attitude is not only the most important part of your fitness program, it’s free.